UCLA Tries to Back Away From 'National Dream University' for Illegal Immigrants

UCLA continues to back away from National Dream University, the partnership announced last week by the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education and the National Labor College that will offer college courses to illegal aliens around the country. 

The partnership is the brain child of two left wing activists, Kent Wong, Director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, and his superior, Professor Chris Tilly, Director of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE).  Together, Wong and Tilly have turned the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education into a virtually independent rogue operation that engages in partisan political advocacy with little institutional control provided by UCLA.

The UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education is one of four organizations that comprise the IRLE. From its founding in 1945 until 2007, the IRLE was funded directly by the state of California. In 2007, however, the state cut all funding. Since then, funding has been provided by the University of California system and other outside sources. The majority of the funding for the IRLE's UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education--$2.6 million in the academic year 2010-2011--comes from a handful of unions and left wing think tanks, according to the 2010-2011 Annual Report of UCLA's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.

The Ford Foundation was the largest single donor, providing $1.2 million. The George Soros funded Open Society Institute donated $176, 443. Other significant donors included the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperation Trust ($450, 000), the United Auto Workers ($156,500), the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the left wing Tides Advocacy Fund, and the City of Los Angeles (all gave approximately $50,000 each). The Liberty Hill Foundation, New World Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and SEIU all donated between $10,000 and $30,000.    

These donations from left wing organizations and unions have enabled the IRLE to act with little concern for directives from UCLA. This independence appears to have been abused with National Dream University, which has set commitment to a left wing pro-union political ideology as a condition for acceptance to its program, as its website specifies:

To be considered for admission to National Dream University you must ... demonstrate commitment to immigrant/labor rights and social justice; (emphasis added)

Reacting to the negative public response brought on by National Dream University's announced mission of offering subsidized college education to illegal aliens while imposing a political litmus test as a standard for acceptance to the program, officials at UCLA have tried to distance the school from the project. "The [National Dream University] initiative between the UCLA Center for Labor Research and the National Labor College was negotiated directly and independently by those two organizations," said Ricardo Vasquez, Senior Public Information Representative in the UCLA Media Relations Department.

Here's the full statement from Mr. Vasquez:

UCLA is unaware of the courses to be offered by the National Labor College (NLC) and has not been asked to review them. They are not UCLA courses, and our understanding is that they are currently being developed by NLC.  
UCLA makes decisions on whether to apply credit for courses only when a student submits those courses as part of his or her application for admission, or when continuing students request that course(s) taken elsewhere be applied towards his or her degree.
UCLA’s criteria require that the courses come from a regionally accredited institution, and that they meet our high academic standards.  Decisions on the transferability of courses are governed by policies set by the Academic Senate's Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, and are implemented by experienced professionals in the Office of Admissions at UCLA.
Organized research units affiliated with UCLA, such as the Center for Labor Research, routinely enter into agreements with other organizations and institutions as part of their public service mission. The initiative between the UCLA Center for Labor Research and the National Labor  College was negotiated directly and independently by those two organizations. 

In its 2010-2011 Annual Report, the IRLE describes the organization's reporting relationships within UCLA:

The UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment is an organized research unit and a department within the UCLA College of Letters and Science. IRLE is governed by a Director, who is appointed by the Dean of the Social Science Division of the UCLA College of Letters and Science for a term of 5 years. The Director is responsible for overall IRLE leadership as well as the activities and direction of the IRLE Academic Unit. The Director shares IRLE governance with an Associate Director and a Faculty Advisory Committee, with whom he meets to discuss, strategize and implement initiatives of the Institute. The Faculty Advisory Committee members serve open-ended terms. . .

In addition to the overall Directorship, administration is delegated to unique leadership structures within the units:

The Labor Center is managed with a Director and the advice of the Labor Center Advisory Committee, who are made up of activists and labor leaders, along with a UCLA faculty representative. This group supports the goals and mission of the Labor Center through fundraising, program support and joint projects...

Alessandro Duranti, Professor of Anthropology, is the Dean of the Social Sciences Division at UCLA, and in theory, has oversight responsibility over the IRLE and the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education. In addition, IRLE Director Chris Tilly is supposed to "[share] IRLE governance with an Associate Director and a Faculty Advisory Committee, with whom he meets to discuss, strategize and implement initiatives of the Institute." But according to this email sent to Breitbart News by Professor Tilly, neither Dean Duranti nor the UCLA Faculty Advisory Committee were uninvolved in the decision to launch National Dream University: 

In his position as director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, Kent Wong reports to me.  As his direct supervisor, I was consulted on and approved the initiative that led to the agreement between the Center and the National Labor College (NLC).  I did not consult nor did I seek approval for the project from any of my superiors. 

The agreement between the Center for Labor Research and the National Labor College was negotiated exclusively between Kent Wong, on behalf of the Center, and representatives from NLC.

I will have nothing further to add beyond what I have provided in this statement.

Both Tilly and Wong have long records of left wing political activism. Wong, a graduate of the unaccredited People's College of Law,  served as an attorney for the Los Angeles area SEIU until he was named head of the Center in 1991.

Tilly, the son of famed Columbia University sociologist Charles Tilly, has an equally long record. A 1976 graduate of Harvard, his web site states that "[b]efore becoming an academic, he spent eight years doing community and labor organizing." After earning a Ph.D. in Urban Economics at MIT in 1989, Tilly launched his academic career at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell where he focused on "social justice," redistributionism, and anti-capitalist studies. According to his resume, he is a long-time member and remains active in the Union for Radical Political Economics, a European based anti-capitalist group of academics that, according to its website, "presents a continuing critique of the capitalist system and all forms of exploitation and oppression while helping to construct a progressive social policy and create socialist alternatives."

From 1991 until 2003 he served on the board of Grassroots International, a Boston based social justice group. In 2002-2003 he served as chairman of the board, and, according to his website, he remains active to this day an advisor to the group. In 2008 he was appointed as a professor at UCLA and named to head up the IRLE.

Given the partisanship demonstrated by the two men who have operated the IRLE and the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education as political advocacy groups under one umbrella organization for many years, questions arise as to why UCLA continues to maintain a formal relationship with both entities. Earlier this week, UCLA officials promised to answer this question posed by Breitbart News:

Do the UCLA criteria for accepting courses from other accredited colleges allow the granting of transfer credit from colleges that apply political ideology as a condition for acceptance to their institutions?

Breitbart News has subsequently posed two additional  questions to Dean Duranti and Professor Tilly:

Is it appropriate that an academic entity bearing the name of UCLA establish a program that discriminates against acceptance of students based on their political ideology?

Why is this virtually independent rogue unit of radical activists allowed to continue using the name UCLA in its title?

Emails and phone calls to Dean Duranti and Professor Tilly posing these questions remain unanswered.

Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of  Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.


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